Happy National Beer Day! And there’s no better way to celebrate than with the terpene responsible for that delicious hoppy flavor. Read on and learn all about Alpha-Caryophyllene.
There’s just something about a crisp, cold beer at the end of a long day that hits the spot. Whether you prefer cracking open a can, popping open a bottle, or if you want it straight from the tap, beer is a sensorial experience. So, make sure you’re participating in National Beer Day on April 7th by supporting your local breweries or simply just drinking your favorite beer. For us, we’re celebrating by paying tribute to the terpene responsible for all that hoppy goodness. This week we’re talking about Alpha-Caryophyllene.
Also known as Humulene, this terpene isolate is what gives hops its unique earthy and woodsy aroma. Now, we wouldn’t dream of downplaying the contributions that alpha-caryophyllene has made for beer. However, this particular terpene has other effects that may benefit a wide array of products. Keep reading and discover a whole new side to alpha-caryophyllene.
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Celebrate National Beer Day With Alpha-Caryophyllene
If you’re on-the-go but still want the goods, here’s a quick rundown of what we’re covering today...
- Alpha-Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene similar to Beta-Caryophyllene (same molecular formula but with a different chemical structure). This allows it to bind with some of the same ECS receptors that Beta-Caryophyllene binds to.
- However, there are differences between their flavor, aroma, and effects. Alpha-Caryophyllene is found in hops, ginseng, sage, and more. Its flavor is uniquely earthy with a bitter woody overtone.
- Some of the most popular cannabis strains with high amounts of this terpene include Biscotti, GSC, and Chemdawg.
- Alpha-Caryophyllene has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties that are effective in topical, edible, and inhalable products.
- Its antibacterial properties would also make it a phenomenal addition to hand sanitizers, skin care products, cleaning products, and more.
- As an insecticide, alpha-caryophyllene is able to both repel certain insects in addition to being toxic to certain insect larvae. This gives it a wider range of applications for both personal and agricultural products.
- Last, but certainly not least, alpha-caryophyllene is partially responsible for the delicious hoppy flavor of beer. The terpene profile of hops is primarily made of caryophyllene, humulene (aka alpha-caryophyllene), and myrcene. Certain brewing techniques can enhance the aromatic expression of the hops ingredient for more flavorful beer.
What is Alpha-Caryophyllene?
It’s gone by many names (alpha-caryophyllene, humulene, alpha-humulene, etc.) but we’re shedding some much-needed light on this mysterious terpene.
Alpha-Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene (a class of terpenes that consist of three isoprene units) similar to Beta-Caryophyllene. Actually, they have the same molecular formula, just different chemical structures. This is what enables Alpha-Caryophyllene to bind with the same endocannabinoid receptors that Beta-Caryophyllene binds to. While this does give them some of the same effects, their differences are what we’re really interested in.
Found in plants like hops, sage, ginseng, coriander, and even cannabis, this terpene has a uniquely earthy flavor with a bitter woody overtone. While our terpenes are free from cannabinoids, it’s hard to talk about this isolate without touching on some of the cannabis strains its herbaceous aroma has contributed to.
Terpene Blends With Alpha-Caryophyllene
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking a certain cannabis strain smells a bit like beer or that your favorite IPA smells a tad bit like cannabis, there’s a reason for that! Both of them have lots of alpha-caryophyllene. It’s pretty obvious why beer has plenty of this terpene, but certain cannabis strains are also fairly dense in humulene. A few of our favorites are Biscotti, GSC, and even Chemdawg.
Roughly 14% of the Biscotti terpene blend is made of alpha-caryophyllene which contributes to its earthy, sweet, and slightly bitter flavor. This terpene can be found in both Sativa and Indica strains, so sometimes it helps provide an uplifting boost of energy, and other times it helps relax and unwind. In this particular blend, alpha-caryophyllene contributes to effects that are more practical for a busy day instead of chilling on the couch. Think smooth energy and an uplifting attitude.
At 9% Alpha-Caryophyllene, GSC is another blend with a heady amount of this terpene. It’s also another blend with more energetic effects. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still pretty relaxing, but we wouldn’t recommend this blend if you’re trying to fall asleep. Its aroma is sweet and earthy with subtle floral hints, and its effects will help you combat stress without putting you to sleep.
If you’ve ever experienced the gassy, herbaceous aroma of Chemdawg, it should come as no surprise that it includes a whopping 11% alpha-caryophyllene. The first flavor to hit you will be diesel, but it also has herbal, woodsy notes that are elevated with hints of citrus. Its effects, however, are what people tend to remember the most. Think cerebral with palpable body relaxation, and energetic with the perfect splash of creativity. Basically, Chemdawg will give you smooth energy, help you keep your cool, and unlock your creativity.
What’s even more amazing is that you don’t have to partake in cannabis whatsoever to experience any of these phenomenal flavors, aromas, or effects. Since we’re able to isolate terpenes and recreate blends without any of the cannabinoids, you can add them to a variety of products. We’re thinking beverages, skincare, edibles, supplements, and more. These flavors and effects make them functional ingredients for lots of products.
Speaking of effects…
Alpha-Caryophyllene Has Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Relief Properties
Similar to beta-caryophyllene, this isolate is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. What’s particularly fascinating about alpha-caryophyllene, however, is that it can reduce inflammation in several ways.
One particular study showed that alpha-caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory benefits for allergic inflammation when taken orally or with some type of aerosol. Other research indicates that it can absorb and take effect quickly by both oral and topical administration. That means a variety of products can effectively harness its anti-inflammatory properties.
This is particularly useful for products designed to reduce painful inflammation. People with conditions like arthritis could find relief from products with alpha-caryophyllene in them. As inflammation is reduced, less and less pressure is felt in the joints, meaning less pain.
Alpha-Caryophyllene Can Slow Bacterial Growth
In 2006, a study analyzed the antibacterial properties of balsam fir essential oil. Not only was it effective against Staphylococcus aureus, but of the terpenes present in the essential oil, humulene required the least concentration to be effective (2.6 microg/mL). This is hardly the first study of its kind either.
A more recent study examined the chemical make-up of Lamiaceae essential oil and whether it would be an effective antibacterial. Alpha-humulene accounted for 14.21% of the essential oil and “The results of this study suggest that the natural products derived from P. integrifolia may have potential use in food, pharmaceutical and/or agro industries for preservatives or antimicrobial agents.”
We don’t know about you, but a terpene that can reduce painful inflammation and slow bacterial growth sounds like it would have a wide variety of applications for products like hand sanitizers, muscle balms, and skincare. If it also managed to repel insects it might even be the perfect addition to a variety of outdoor products. Well…
Alpha-Caryophyllene is an Insecticide
Yes, you read that right. Not only is this terpene flavoring your beer, reducing inflammation, and slowing bacterial growth, but it can also deter insects. Plus, on top of being able to act as a topical insect repellent, studies have also shown that it’s toxic to certain types of mosquito larvae.
Aedes aegypti, is a species of mosquito responsible for transmitting dengue fever in many tropical regions. In 2015, however, a study showed how the essential oil from the Commiphora leptophloeos tree could deter these mosquitoes. One of the main terpenes in this oil is alpha-humulene, and the study concluded that it was partially responsible for the oil’s strong deterrent effect. In addition, “The oviposition deterrent activity of the leaf oil of C. leptophloeos is one of the most potent reported so far, suggesting that it could represent an interesting alternative to synthetic insecticides.”
Alpha-Caryophyllene and Beer
Alpha-Caryophyllene isn’t the only terpene present in beer, but it’s probably one of the most important. That’s because it plays such a pivotal role in the flavor of hops.
When a hop cone is at the later stages of maturation, a terpene-dense oil forms. The main terpenes that make up this oil are caryophyllene, humulene, and myrcene. The big issue, when it comes to aroma and flavor, is that each variety of hops has a different ratio of those three main terpenes. Supposedly, the ratio of humulene to caryophyllene makes all the difference, and brewers prefer an aroma “ that has a ratio of greater than 3:1. Such hops tend to be floral, herbal, and spicy in character.” Craft Beer & Brewing admits that this can be particularly tricky since terpenes are so volatile.
Brewing involves several processes that will actually damage terpenes. This makes it very difficult to acquire a final product still dense in terpenes. However, some of the compounds produced when humulene gets oxidized (humulene mono-epoxides and di-epoxides) can infuse quite a lot of scent into beer. When brewers age hops in bales before pelletizing, the likelihood of producing these compounds increases. When that happens, brewers end up with an ingredient with way more flavor and aroma.
Drink Up and Cheers to Alpha-Caryophyllene
If you’ve been searching for a functional ingredient to take your products to the next level, alpha-caryophyllene could be exactly what you’re looking for. From its herbaceous flavor and aroma to its powerful effects, this isolate has the potential to change the game for more than just beer.Contact us today to talk about how you can start using this terpene in your products. Also, don’t forget to follow us on social media for all the latest updates.